TJ Hughes and Thorntons - town shops could close

THE future of two well-known shops in Weston town centre looks uncertain following news that their parent companies are in difficulties.

Discount store TJ Hughes has filed an intention to appoint an administrator amid reports that a supplier is threatening to issue a winding-up notice against the chain.

The company is considering selling many of its 57 stores, which includes one in Weston’s High Street, in a bid to save some of its 4,000 jobs.

In the year to January 31, the retailer lost more than �10million and looked to be on the brink of collapse until private equity group Endless bought it in March.

The news comes hot on the heels of plans announced by chocolate retailer Thorntons - which also has a store in Weston’s High Street - to close up to 180 stores.

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The group said it will close at least 120 outlets over the next three years as their leases expire, while it will also consider the future of an additional 60 shops over the same period.

The closures will leave the firm with around 180 to 200 company-owned stores.

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Newly-appointed president of the Weston Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Gail Parsons, said TJ Hughes and Thorntons played key roles in town centre business.

She said: “They are both important and it would be a big loss to the town centre if either of them were to close.

“We have initiatives to improve business in the area and we would hope the stores will continue to play a part in them.

“I’d also fear, if TJ Hughes was to close, whether we would we get another retailer coming in to fill store? This would leave a big empty gap in the town. I’d urge both companies not to close their Weston stores.”

The chamber, which has 91 members, is developing a town centre improvement plan to encourage commerce in the area.

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